|Chapter Number||THE LAST|
|Newspaper Title||The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 - 1950)|
|Trove Title||An Astounding Marriage|
CHAPTER THE LAST.
Philip Menzi'es and Douglas Audain had the smoking-room of the Strangers' Club at Ostend to themselves one after noon, some ten days later — that is to say, that when Philip entered it his old
friend was the only occupant. -They exchanged curt greetings, both , with sore hearts. And when Audain rose, with some muttered words to take his departure, Philip, who had learned many things in the last month or two, among them -that friendship is such a ? priceless boon that it should be. relin quished only with death — who knows? - .perhaps not then— held out his hand, with one *of his old, swift lovable ges tures. ..;;? ' ' 'Won't you stay a few minutes, Doug las?' he 'said. 'Your sister was kind enough to say the other day that she' was sorry for our estrangement. Won't you try to believe in my sincere grief for the pas,t— a little?' 'My sister? How dare you mention her name?'. the other retorted roughly. It 'was clear that be was in .an irritable ' mood. To watch his sister, whom he had grown to love so' dearly, simp'y growing more miserable every day, with ', ' ? out being able to raise a finger to help her, had been his portion lately; and / he could. scarcely be expected to enter , tain friendly feelings towards this man, whom he looked upon as the cause of all Mary's unhappiness. 'I wonder you are not ashamed of yourself! I wonder you ? ' dare stay in the same place — the same country!' he added. 'She will never regain her peace of mind while you are here to remind her of what has been. ? Great heavens, man, I believe I could kill you ! , Whether it is the thought of what has occurred, or whether she still thinks of you as you don't deserve to be thought of, I don't know; but she is . ' pining away, Philip — growing paler and thinner every day. She takes no inter ?
est in anything. Nothing can rouse her. She was the brightest girl in the world once ; to-day you wouldn't know her.' , 'Spare me !' Philip said, in a choked voice. 'For pity's stake, don't tell me this!'' 'Ah, it goes home, doe^s it?' Douglas said savagely. 'How dare you flaunt that woman in her face?' Philip took a 'step towards hin^ with an ugly look on his face. 'Will you explain yourself?' he asked. . 'Willingly. I have often longed for an opportunity of doing so. I say again —how dare you openly make love to that woman you have picked up — Heaven knows where! — under the very eyes of the girl whose life you have ruined !' 'I allow no one to insult my sister!' was the unexpected answer. ? ' 'Your sister? Nonsense; Philip! This is no time .for joking — and bad joking, into the bargain!' A sudden light ' leaped into Philip's eyes — a light as of some great mental exultation. He remembered what Doug las had just said: — 'She will never re gain her peace of mind while you are there to remind her of what has been !' His next words were bloodthirsty enough. 'We are not in England, therefore I will not only tell you but teach you not 'to insult my sister ! ' ? I demand ? the
satisfaction of a gentleman!' 'What! You surely wouldn't fight?' ' Audain asked, amazed. 'Are you afraid?' 'No man shall' say that to me,' was the quick answer. ' ''When and wjiere?' 'To-morrow morning, before day break, on the sands, midway between this and Middlekerque. One request, Douglas. No seconds! Only a doc tor ! . Let us avoid scandal !' *'. ''As you pleasje. Pistols?' 'Yes. Will you bring them with you?' ? 'As you like.' They parted without another word; each thinking of tfie grim rendezvous they, had just made. ' ? 'That it should have come vto this !' Audain muttered to himself. ij'I loved him far better than, a brother. ' But it 'was unlike Philip, to put me off with that Ue about his sister!' He was calmer now his fury had subsided; but he did not believe that Philip was speak ing the truth. He was sorry for this tragic termination to an almost ideal friendship; but had he found himself face to face with death, he could not have said with truth that he forgave this man the wrong he had done. - Per haps his want of faith was not very amazing, for Philip had never men tioned the existence of a sister to him ; and this prevarication seemed to him
even more of 'an insult to Mary than his open, attentions to the unknown, woman. 'It is the only way,' Philip said to his reflection in the glass as he dressed for a dance given by the American visitors. '?She will forget very soon. After all, it is not so. hard. Olga will be sorry; perhaps mosi of all, because she has failed to solve this problem?' ? He smiled a little sadly, and a sudden, im patient knock at his door interrupted his musings. ? - . 'Are you ready, Phil?' Olga's voice asked. ''We , are very late. Are the Aiidains coming?' she asked, as they walked along to the Kursaal. 'I don't know,' he answered. ' 'How lovely 'you look, Olga! But why so sombre? It's like a premonition of death!' She wore black — soft, black chiffon, unrelieved by jet or sparkling sequins.' Round her neck was a rope of black pearls, which hung to her waist. The same stones were in her ears. Her dark hair was drawn: low in her neck,' without ornament'. ' A black cloak hung from her shoulders. She looked almost unearthly, and her likeness to her brother was remarkable. 'I felt scn,bre,' she answered lightly. 'The other women will make up* what .1 lack in color,' ' 'We've , been very good friends, haven't we, Olga?' he said, later on in the evening, during a pause in the danc ing, when they happened to find them selves cut ,off from the ballroom by a crowd struggling round the refreshment buffet for jellies and champagne. 'Very!' she answered equably) 'with an astonished glance. 'Why do you say that, Phil?' (To be continued.)